Boys and Girls Win XC State Championship!
It was coming from the Union Catholic boys and girls cross-country teams and their supporters, who had every reason to be loud and proud because the Vikings had just pulled off a rare and stunning sweep of the State Non-Public A Championships, which touched off a spirited celebration.
This meet was originally scheduled for last Saturday, but was postponed due to severe storms.
How rare is a Non-Public A sweep?
Union Catholic is the first program to win both the boys and girls Non-Public A titles in 36 years! Paul VI is the last program to pull it off back in 1985.
How did it happen?
First, the UC girls, ranked No. 11 in the state, won another thriller over Union County rival and No. 12 ranked Kent Place, 77-78, for its third state title. The Vikings also won in 2015 and 2017.
Then in an eagerly anticipated showdown between the state’s two best teams, the No. 1 ranked Union Catholic boys, defeated No. 2 ranked Christian Brothers Academy, 32-43, to win its first state championship ever.
CBA, which owns the state record with 30 state championships, had won four in a row and nine of the last 10.
The Union Catholic boys are the first team other than CBA or Don Bosco Prep to win the Non-Public A title since 1995!
The team sweep is the greatest accomplishment in the history of the UC program!
“This is the best day in the history of our program,” said Union Catholic coach Mike McCabe. “The girls really closed well and came back to beat a very strong Kent Place team. And the boys have been building for this all season, and they all stepped up with their best races ever here at Holmdel. It’s the biggest win ever for our boys!”
The UC-CBA matchup had been hyped up all season, and each team rose to the challenge with their best races of the season. Both teams had all of its scoring runners break 17, and CBA and UC took 10 of the top 16 places.
Union Catholic’s frontal attack once again set the tone for the Vikings as senior Shane Brosnan (15:45) and sophomore Jimmy Wischusen (15:48) went 1-2 as they threw down the two fastest times ever by Union County runners in the history of Holmdel Park. Westfield’s Cliff Sheehan (1980) and Jeff Perrella (2005) had shared the record of 15:50. And Wischusen’s 15:48 is tied for the fourth fastest ever run by a sophomore in the history of the course. Holmdel’s current course has been used for the State Championships since 1979!
The only sophomores to run faster at Holmdel Park than Wischusen are Joe Rosa of West Windsor-Plainsboro North (15:38 in 2008), Blasie Ferro of CBA (15:45 in 2013), and Doug Smith of Gill St. Bernard’s (15:47 in 2005).
In back of Brosnan and Wischusen for UC were senior Myles Plummer, fifth in 16:12, junior Caudell Cajuste, 10th in 16:30, and junior Ryan Cichocki, 14th in 16:54. Freshman Evan Weber (18th in 17:03) and sophomore Josh Hunsinger (31st in 17:43) also had strong races for the Vikings.
All seven runners for UC ran Holmdel personal bests, and the top five runners averaed a sizzling 16:13, the eighth fastest average in course history.
CBA, which suffered some misfortune when star freshman Joe Barrett lost a shoe just before the mile mark and eventually had to drop out, averaged 16:25.
The Colts received a fourth-place from senior Jack Moran (16:05), a sixth from sophomore Jack Falkowski (16:16) an eighth from junior Nick Sullivan (16:17), a ninth from sophomore Alex Kemp (16:30), and a 16th from junior Matt Mastroly (16:59).
Brosnan said winning the first boys state title in school history has been something UC has targeted for a long time.
“We’ve been training hard since the summer to make history,” said Brosnan. “We’ve been building every week this season for this, so it feels great to see it all come together.”
Plummer, who dropped his Holmdel PR by 16 seconds, said he’s dreamed of this moment since his freshman year.
“For the last four years, this is something I’ve always thought about,” said Plummer. “All the hard work paid off for all of us. We knew we’d all have to run our best, and we did. I can’t say enough about how well everyone ran. Caudell and Ryan are very strong 4-5 guys for us, and it took all five of us to put this puzzle together.”
UC and CBA will clash again this Saturday at the Meet of Champions at Holmdel. The girls race is at 11 a.m. and the boys race at 11:45.
“We know we have to do this again in a few days, and it will be another tough race,” said Plummer. “But we will be ready.”
In the girls race, Kent Place, seeking its first title since winning the State Non-Public B title in 2013, opened a big lead as expected up front, taking a 13-29 advantage over UC after each team had three runners across the line. But UC’s No. 4 and No. 5 runners each finished ahead of Kent Place No. 4 runner to give the Vikings a heart-pounding 77-78 victory.
This is the third time this season that UC has edged Kent Place by less than four points. UC defeated Kent Place by three points to win the Watchung Conference Division at the Union County Conference Championships, and by two points at the Union County Championships.
Some of the biggest keys to victory for UC was junior Maameyaa Nyinah out-kicking two runners over the final 100 yards, and junior Kaleigh Gunsiorowski picking off a runner late in the race to help the Vikings secure the victory.
UC’s top five were Gunsiorowski, a first-year XC runner who closed fast to place fourth in 19:27, sophomore Leilani Gibson, 11th in 20:04, senior Abby Granrath, 15th in 20:17, Nyinah, 20th in 20:51, and senior Jenna Keith, 27th in 21:10. Four of UC’s top five ran PR’s for Holmdel Park. Asydiah Pray-Brown (40th in 21:38), and junior Victoria Urbaez (52nd in 22:20) were the No. 6 and No. 7 runners for the Vikings.
“This means the world to us,” said Granrath. “We have so many state track titles, and me and the other seniors have been working for this for the last three years putting in so much time and dedication and training for this moment. We knew it would be another close race with Kent Place, and we all just executed our race plans It came down to who wanted it more, and winning was in all of our hearts.”
Kent Place, which went 2-3-8-31-34, was led by junior Lindsay Hausman, second in 18:55, and senior Miranda Lorsbach, third in 19:21.